In the seven years McKenzie has been running the front office in Oakland, he was only able to squeeze 39 wins out of the rosters he built. He came to the Raiders with a proud history of building through free agency and drafts, but is leaving Oakland with more misses than hits when it comes to bringing in young talent.
With the recent picks in this past draft, the handling of Mack and Cooper, two of McKenzie’s first round picks, and the buzz of Gruden having more control in decisions than he should of, this news shouldn’t come as a surprise. A lot of things done this season had Jon Gruden written all over it.
With McKenzie out, where does he sit in the hearts of Raider fans, and who will be the next in line for his job?
Where does Reggie McKenzie sit in the hearts of the Raider faithful?
I think if you asked a lot of Raider fans their thoughts on McKenzie, you are going to find a mixed bag of opinions. Some may feel he failed to build this team through the draft, while others will make the point that up until Gruden came to Oakland, the three-headed monster that was Mack, Carr and Cooper was McKenzie’s doing. While those three are impressive names, to only have three major contributors on your roster come out of the draft in seven years is rather dismal. Now that Gruden separated himself from all but a few players Reggie McKenzie brought in, fans everywhere will only remember the reaches he made. For example, DJ Hayden in the first in 2012, or Mario Edwards in the second in 2015.
For the lack of players drafted, he did build a formidable offensive line, one of the best the league has seen in quite some time. When he came to Oakland, the former NFL lineman promised to build inside out. That is what he did. Luring All Pro’s like Center Rodney Hudson and Guard Kelechie Osemele over to big contracts and adding Left Tackle Donald Penn was the recipe that was going to make the franchise successful again. Like the days when Art Shell, Gene Upshaw and Jim Otto anchored that offensive line. Raider Nation respected that sentiment and loved the fact he tried to bring a sense of toughness back to the Silver and Black.
Ultimately though McKenzie will go down as the guy that got Gruden his job. Right now, the feeling is if McKenzie just did his job right the Raiders would not be in this situation right now. Chucky wouldn’t be on the sideline slashing players off his roster left and right saying stupid things like “It’s hard to find a good pass rusher”. McKenzie is leaving the franchise worse off than it was when he came to Oakland in 2012.
His name is also all over the Carr extension. The extension that pretty much handcuffed the Raiders in the negotiations with Mack. Many believe Carr is paid too much money. They believe Mack deserved that extension. They believe the Carr extension is the sole reason why they lost out on their beloved Defensive Player of the Year.
That fact alone leaves many in Raider Nation unable to forgive Reggie McKenzie.
Are we just delaying the inevitable?
When Jon Gruden signed his ten year, 100 million dollar contract, I think we looked at it as the first domino in the process of making Gruden coach/general manager. That is a lot of money for just a coach. You would have to think that in order to make that money worth something, he would have a lot more responsibilities. You do not just coach a team for 10 million dollars a year. Making that kind of money, you are going to put your two sense into every single matter the franchise is dealing in. No matter how much Gruden denied it, he was.
If you watched and listened to the press conference today, Gruden stated that he does not know if he will be included in the interview process for the position. Gruden just wants to be focused on football and the guys on the grass.
I don’t buy it. There is no way this job can be attractive to any big name in the business. I am sure the idea of working with Gruden is not a motivating one. His presence alone will make many think twice before even interviewing for the position. Though his comments briefly instilled hope in the hearts of many that he is not at this moment interested in the job, we all know for sure he will most likely be the new general manager of the Raiders.
All in all, I commend Reggie McKenzie and the job he did in Oakland. A 39-70 record is absolutely terrible, but he created excitement around a historic NFL football team. An excitement that was missing for quite sometime. For two years there, the NFL was better for it.
I respected how he conducted business, his philosophy on building a team and him. He could not get the job done, but I hope the Raiders can build on whatever foundation McKenzie left and put together a winning franchise once again.